Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids are available in a wide range of technology, features and styles. The style of hearing aid doesn't determine the cost, that will depend on the features and technology your lifestyle requires. A person with a complex and varied lifestyle will need a more complex hearing aid that can keep up. The digital hearing aids that are available today are offered in various technology levels to suit your lifestyle such as calm, social, active and busy.
Hearing aids for the 'calm' lifestyle tend to be set up for more basic listening needs. They will be set up to handle minor amounts of background noise, but are typically intended for one on one conversation in a quiet room. In contrast the 'busy' hearing aids are designed with many automatic features to help the hearing aids adapt to any number of complex, detail oriented jobs or busy social lives. As the technology within the hearing aids increases, so do the number and complexity of these advanced digital features.
When selecting a style the following is considered:
- The degree of the hearing loss (power requirements)
- Lifestyle and listening needs
- Manual dexterity and visual abilities
- Patient budget
- Skin sensitivities
- Anatomical/medical considerations
Styles of hearing aids
Thanks to modern technology and the miniaturization of components, hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles. Almost any hearing loss can be fit with a discreet hearing aid that is barely noticeable to the people around you, allowing everyone with a hearing loss to find something they can be comfortable wearing in any situation.
Behind the ear
Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids sit at the top of the ear and slightly behind, usually around where the arm of your glasses would sit. The bulk of the hearing aid is behind the ear, with a piece of tubing, or plastic coated copper wiring leading to a piece inside the ear. These hearing aids are typically coloured to blend in with your hair colour, although some people prefer skin tone to match their ears. The size of the BTE determines the number of manual controls, battery size and power level. A larger hearing aid will generally have more power than a smaller one. In some cases you can also choose to show off your individual style with brightly coloured earmolds, hearing aids or even a fun pattern like camouflage!
Receiver in the ear/canal (RIE/RIC)
RIE's are essentially hearing aids that are split in half. A traditional hearing aid has three components: microphone(s), amplifier and speaker. In the RIE the receiver (speaker) is separated from the other components with a wire, allowing the main hearing aid to be much smaller, and fewer issues with feedback (whistling) as the speaker and microphone are separated by a greater distance. RIE hearing aids are designed for the full range of hearing losses from mild to severe (when paired with a custom earmold). These are arguably the most discreet hearing aids on the market.
BTE with Earmold
Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids are the most powerful style of hearing aid. The larger, longer casing allows for bigger components which in turn gives us more power to treat severe to profound hearing losses. They are shaped to follow the contour of the ear for comfort and a level of discretion. The larger style also allows for more manual controls such as a program button and volume control which is preferred by many long term users that don't like carrying a remote control or using an app to make adjustments. The BTE is paired with a custom earmold in either lucite or silicone (available in a variety of colours) depending on the needs and preference of the wearer.
In the ear (ITE)
In the ear hearing aids will be custom fit, using an impression of the ear taken with a two part compound that is poured into the ear and gradually hardens into a rubber consistency. The process takes about 5 minutes. These are available in different shades to blend with your skin tone. There are several sizes which are listed below, ranging from smallest to largest.
Invisible in canal (IIC)
The smallest custom hearing instruments, the IIC sits deep in the canal. It requires a specific size and shape of ear, and is therefore not suitable for everyone. These are designed for mild hearing losses and have no connectivity.
Completely in canal (CIC)
One of the smallest hearing instruments, fitting deeply within the ear canal. These aids are suitable for mild to moderate hearing losses. They are harder to see, but offer limited connectivity and no manual controls.
In the canal (ITC)
ITC hearing aids are worn in the entrance to the canal and lower portion of the outer ear. As they are slightly larger than CIC's they have a longer battery life and full connectivity to the different accessories available. We are also able to put a manual control (either a program button or a volume wheel) on the aids as well. Depending on size we may also be able to utilize directional microphone technology to improve your hearing in background noise. Suitable for mild to moderate hearing losses.
Full shell in the ear (ITE)
Full Shell (ITE) hearing aids fill the entire outer ear up to the anti-helix. The larger size allows these hearing aids to have the full range of features such as directional microphones, manual controls and wireless connectivity. They have a larger battery, meaning fewer battery changes and can fit up to severe hearing losses.
The latest development in custom hearing aids is the remote microphone. This option is available on all custom models except for the IIC. A small wire goes out of the hearing aid, up along the inner curve of the ear to a microphone hidden in the anti-helix. This protects the microphones from wind noise, reduces feedback, and leaves more room in the hearing aid for the other components.